Back when we moved into our warehouse we were shocked to find out that there was no high speed internet available in our building. When we contacted local high speed providers, we quickly realized that adding a line to the building would cost a ton (like either $4,000 down plus $140/mo, or $300/mo with a 5 year commitment). So our somewhat risky solution was to get a Sprint Mobile Broadband card and use it in conjunction with the Linksys WRT54G3G router below.
We didn’t know how good of cell phone reception we’d get. We didn’t know if the router would cover the entire warehouse. We didn’t know if the speeds would be adequate. We could have totally fallen flat on our face with this risk…but we didn’t. I wanted to make sure I wrote a follow-up post so that everyone knew how well this has worked for us. This solution for internet service has absolutely been one of the better decisions we’ve made. In fact, I plan on using this same setup at home (being able to “take your connection with you” by just pulling the card out of the router and putting it in your lapper is sooo cool).
Before I get into specifics, keep in mind that we are about 30 minutes outside of Albany in an area that resembles farm land more than the inner city…meaning we don’t get the worlds best cell phone coverage. Also keep in mind that the warehouse is a steel framed building, which certainly isn’t helping reception either. After almost five months of use, here are my thoughts:
- Connection speeds are fast – generally within the range that the broadband card states (600 kbps – 1.4 Mbps download and average upload speeds of 350 – 500 kbps). Now if you’re uploading movies you aren’t going to like an upload speed of 350 kbps, but for our daily activities these speeds are more than enough. The router certainly doesn’t prohibit you from getting the maximum available connection speed.
- Connection is strong. Everywhere in the 5,300 sq-ft warehouse you get a full five-bar connection. It’s nice to know you can move around and not lose a signal. Again, being in a steel framed building you just never know what you’re getting.
- Downtime is minimal. In five months, I’d say we’ve only had one day where we lost connection for a significant amount of time. It was about 2 hours one morning. Otherwise, just clicking a button on the router to disconnect / reconnect always solves the problem in less than a minute. My home internet service is down more often than this is.
- There’s no slowdown when all four of use are connected at once. These broadband cards aren’t necessarily made for this, so I was worried that the connection would lag or we’d get kicked off if there was too much combined uploading or downloading going on. I’ve never noticed a difference whether there were five computers using it (our lappers + the shipping desktop) or just one.
In sum: if you have a Sprint Mobile Broadband card you’d be nuts not to pick one of these up. For us, trimming a $300/month expense down to a $60/month expense was huge. Every penny adds up, and that $240 is money we can use to market our sites, pay other warehouse expenses, or pay our salaries.